How the Raiders can replace Derek Carr and where Carr could land in 2023

Carr’s completion percentage dipped to 60.8 percent this year, down from 68.4 percent a year ago. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Raiders are not officially eliminated from playoff contention, but they are already preparing for 2023. To be fair, their playoff odds are long, needing wins over the 49ers and Chiefs to close the season along with a litany of other results to go their way. However, Las Vegas essentially waved the white flag on Wednesday, announcing that Jarrett Stidham will start the final two regular season games with Chase Garbers set to be his backup. This means Derek Carr’s season is done and along with it, potentially his career with the Raiders.

How did we get to this point? Well, it started with the contract extension Carr signed last offseason. It looked as though the Raiders had locked up their franchise quarterback for years to come. Instead, it was actually a one-year pact with the framework to keep him in house if the team desired. Carr can be released or traded this offseason for a dead cap hit of just $5.625 million while saving Las Vegas $29.25 million in cap space.

The door was cracked open to Carr’s exit this offseason at that point. It was blown wide open as the year rolled on and the Raiders continued to struggle. The team that thrived in close games a year ago suddenly could not close out contests. A pair of losses would send the Raiders to 6-11 on the season, nowhere near the lofty expectations that were set after acquiring Devante Adams this offseason.

So what’s next for Carr? It seems like he will be searching for a new team this offseason. He won’t be shopping long. There are so many QB needy teams in the league right now, he will have his fair share of suitors. Before we get to where he might land, we need to figure out what the Raiders’ plan might be.

There certainly seems to be a shortage of quality NFL quarterbacks at the moment. There are something like a dozen teams who could be in the market for a new signal caller this offseason. It is a bit surprising to see the Raiders opt to get into the mix despite having at least an average starting option. It begs the question: how can they upgrade at the position? Is it even possible to upgrade this offseason?

Brady reportedly nearly joined the Raiders in 2020 before signing with the Buccaneers. (Wikimedia Commons)

Well, let’s look at some veteran options first. The first name that comes to mind is Tom Brady. Yes, the GOAT could very well leave Tampa Bay this offseason and head for a new team with a familiar face. He and Raiders coach Josh McDaniels worked together for a long time in New England, so this seems like a logical reunion. Las Vegas would unquestionably need to upgrade his protection either through the draft or in free agency. However, I imagine the prospect of throwing to Adams, Hunter Renfroe and Darren Waller would be an appealing one.

Otherwise, Jimmy Garoppolo feels like the only other seasoned signal caller that would be a viable option. He, like Brady, has history with McDaniels and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Outside of Garoppolo, there aren’t too many realistic targets. I don’t expect Lamar Jackson to leave the Ravens. Baker Mayfield, Jameis Winston, Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater don’t feel like upgrades. Perhaps the Raiders would hope to ride the Geno Smith wave, but that also feels unlikely.

If not a veteran, the draft is always an option. The Raiders are on track to land a top-10 pick in the draft. However, they find themselves behind as many as six different teams that could draft a quarterback this year. The Texans, Seahawks, Colts, Falcons, Lions and Panthers will all at least consider selecting a rookie QB. Some of that could be impacted by the offseason carousel, but I doubt that all six of those clubs will pass on a quarterback. At best, the Raiders would likely be taking the third or fourth choice passer from this class. Sometimes, that works out really well. Just ask the Bills. However, taking that would be a bold risk to take.

While the Raiders work on finding his replacement, Carr will be looking to refresh his career. Let’s take a look at where he might land.

Indianapolis Colts
Indy has been searching for a long-term solution at quarterback since Andrew Luck retired. After one-year rentals of Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan, Carr could end the search, at least for a few years. Calling Carr a bridge quarterback feels disrespectful given his success in the league and the fact he is only 31 years old. He would likely offer a lot more stability at the position than the Colts have had in years. If Indianapolis is able to land one of its top targets on the draft board, it currently holds the 5th overall pick, this likely won’t make sense, but if they want a veteran option to compete a bit faster and use that premium pick to bolster the roster elsewhere, Carr would be a logical choice.

New York Jets
Zach Wilson does not feel long for New York and Mike White has yet to really earn enough trust to be considered a long-term solution. Jimmy Garoppolo has been heavily linked to Gang Green given his connection to Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur, but Carr could be another viable option for a team that feels like it is a quarterback away from at least being in the Super Bowl conversation. Joe Douglas will need to revamp the offensive line in order for Carr to succeed, but that is likely true of any quarterback New York brings in.

New Orleans Saints
This probably would not be a huge upgrade over the contingent of Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston, but progress is progress. New Orleans’ cap situation seems horrible, but they find ways to get around that pretty much annually. With a number of talented players already on the roster (think Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, Tyrann Mathieu, Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, etc.), finding some stability at quarterback could go a long way to getting the Saints back on track in a weak division. New Orleans is technically still in the playoff hunt right now despite a 6-9 record. Without a first-round pick, there aren’t a ton of other options, so Carr could be a target.

Washington Commanders
This feels like a sneaky good option for Carr. Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson would give him a solid supporting cast. This team has a good defense and could use a boost at quarterback. Carson Wentz is very expendable and would actually save the Commanders roughly $26.2 million in cap space with zero dead cap. I don’t know if this move would make Washington a real contender, but if this team can compete for a playoff spot with below average quarterback play, even getting average quarterback play could go a long way.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I did say that Brady’s exit from Tampa Bay felt likely, didn’t I? Maybe, he and Carr could just trade places. The Buccaneers do not have a true succession plan on the roster right now and with them in line to win the NFC South, it is unlikely they will be in position to draft a quarterback in the first round. Carr could help this team stay in contention in the division. A healthy offensive line plus receivers like Chris Godwin and Mike Evans could lead to a very successful offense. Carr is still young enough to be considered the present and the short-term future at the position.

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Draft Season Never Ends: Fixing the Denver Broncos

With Nathaniel Hackett out in Denver, Chris explores how the Broncos can get back on track this offseason despite sending so much draft capital to Seattle as part of the Russell Wilson trade.

You can find every episode on Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or wherever you find your podcasts. As always, I appreciate reviews, feedback and when you hit that subscribe button.

Three Potential Landing Spots for Mac Jones

Is this premature? Absolutely. Am I going to do it anyway? You bet.

We haven’t seen quarterback drama like this in New England since at least 2017 when the team traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco. At that point, the Patriots still had Tom Brady. Mac Jones seemed to be Brady’s heir after the Pats spent a first round pick on him in 2021. New England reached the playoffs and Jones was in the conversation for Rookie of the Year.

Oh how things have changed.

Jones opened the season as the unquestioned starter, but suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 that forced him to miss the next three games. Brian Hoyer was supposed to be his short-term replacement, but then the veteran quarterback suffered a concussion during his first start against the Packers.

Enter Bailey Zappe.

The rookie fourth-round pick from Western Kentucky was a bit of a surprise pick by the franchise in this draft, but most viewed him as a developmental prospect who could be a quality backup long term. That has not been the case so far. Zappe nearly upset the Packers in Week 4 coming in to replace Hoyer. He led the Patriots to back-to-back wins over the Lions and Browns, completing 41 of 55 passes for 497 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

Needless to say, fans in New England were ready for Zappe Hour and The Zappening and everything in between. However, Mac Jones was cleared to return for Monday Night Football against the Bears and got the start. Jones didn’t last long though. He attempted just six passes, amassing 13 yards, and was pulled after throwing an interception. Zappe got the offense moving, scoring a pair of touchdowns to take a 14-10 lead. Things went off the rails from there. Chicago went on to win 33-14.

Zappe clearly provided a spark, but it fizzled and it left New England in a tricky spot at quarterback. Belichick dodged questions about who his starting quarterback would be going forward. He said Jones was taken out of the game because he wasn’t healthy. If that was really the case, then why was Jones out there in the first place? This whole situation is a bit bizarre and really casts a shadow over his future with the team.

It certainly appears that Belichick is no longer 100% committed to Jones. He has been underwhelming this season, with just three touchdowns to six interceptions. His passer rating and completion percentage are also down from a year ago.

As I already noted, this is definitely a bit early to talk about Jones no longer being with the Patriots. This would be very early to move on from a first-round pick at quarterback after just two seasons, especially without a change in the front office. Still, stranger things have happened. If Jones does become available, there are a few teams that will definitely be interested.

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have been searching for a quarterback since Andrew Luck retired. Matt Ryan was the team’s fourth opening day starter in as many years. This team has been searching for a long-term solution, but has only had stop-gap answers. Acquiring Jones could potentially end the carousel at the position.

Now, I can understand why Indianapolis might be hesitant to make this move. The Colts brought in Carson Wentz hoping a change of scenery would bring out the best in a player that looked like an MVP before he suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2017. That obviously didn’t work out as the Colts shipped him out to Washington after just one season.

The difference here is that Jones is still on his rookie deal. Wentz had already signed a mega extension with a ton of money guaranteed. It makes acquiring Jones a much lower-risk move by comparison. Frank Reich is on the hot seat. I’m not sure he will get another chance with this team, but Chris Ballard has put together a pretty good roster outside of the quarterback spot. Jones could give him a consistent, accurate passer to operate a run-focused offense centered around Jonathan Taylor.

New Orleans Saints
The Jameis Winston experiment in New Orleans has not gone according to plan. His play has been inconsistent, but more importantly, his health has kept him off the field. An ACL injury cost him the remainder of the 2021 season. Now, he is dealing with multiple fractures in his back and a lingering ankle injury. Andy Dalton has fared well in relief, but I can’t imagine that the Saints really believe he could be the long-term answer at quarterback.

Jones has a similar playstyle to Drew Brees and while Sean Payton is no longer the head coach, this is still largely the same staff. Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael had a lot of success with an incredibly accurate quarterback who lacked elite mobility and arm strength. New Orleans has already sunk a lot of draft capital into this team, so I would not be shocked to see them go all in by acquiring an upgrade at quarterback.

Washington Commanders
I already talked about Carson Wentz and how he struggled in Indianapolis. Things have not been much better since he joined the Commanders. His protection was terrible before he suffered a thumb injury that landed him on injured reserve. According to Spotrac, Washington can move on from Wentz this offseason with minimal dead. Releasing him would free up $27 million in cap space. Needless to say, Wentz’s future in D.C. doesn’t look great. I think it is also safe to assume that Washington does not believe in Taylor Heinicke long term. They went out and acquired Wentz despite having Heinicke still on the roster. It feels like this team is poised to look elsewhere this offseason when it comes to the quarterback position.

Jones would certainly need better protection if he were to thrive in Washington, but $27 million would give the Commanders a decent amount to invest in their offensive line. Terry McLaurin would unquestionably be the best receiver Jones has ever worked with and it would be a reunion with his former teammate Brian Robinson. This is another tricky spot with Ron Rivera on the hot seat, but adding a young quarterback on a rookie deal could buy him a bit more time to turn things around in Washington.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

Draft Season Never Ends: Week 1 Recap and Week 2 Preview

New episodes dropping every Friday! Football is finally back in full swing! Stetson Bennett, Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud each had important weeks to open the season. There are a few other standout performers from across the country as well. Plus, Chris looks ahead to another big weekend of college football games and reacts to Thursday Night Football.

You can find every episode on Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or wherever you find your podcasts. As always, I appreciate reviews, feedback and when you hit that subscribe button.

NFL draft stock watch: Stetson Bennett, Jared Verse impress in Week 1

Week 1 of the 2022 college football season is in the books! It was a thrilling first week of action from Pitt’s wild win over West Virginia on Thursday night through a tense Clemson-Georgia Tech showdown on Monday. We had some outrageous finishes in Boone, Gainesville and New Orleans in between.

I had a chance to watch a bunch of games over the weekend and there were a bunch of players who really impressed me and several others who fell short of the mark. I won’t pretend I watched every game, but here was my watch list so far from the weekend:
Pittsburgh-West Virginia
Georgia-Oregon
Syracuse-Louisville
Michigan-Colorado State
Florida-Utah
LSU-Florida State
Clemson-Georgia Tech

I still have several more that I want to watch, including NC State-East Carolina, UNC-App State, Coastal Carolina-Army, Penn State-Purdue and Oklahoma State-Central Michigan.

Each week, I am going to write this column to highlight which players I think boosted their draft stocks and which players are trending in the wrong direction. Not every player that I liked is going to get a shoutout and not every player that I was underwhelmed by will be mentioned. I am also limiting this to draft-eligible players for 2023. So while Drake Maye and Malaki Starks looked great, neither is going to be on this list.

Without further ado, here is my stock up and stock down after Week 1.

Stock Up

Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
5th-year junior
Week 1 stat line: 9 catches, 97 yards, 2 TDs
While West Virginia came up short on Thursday night to open the season, Ford-Wheaton caught everyone’s attention with a fantastic performance. He showcased his size, ability to adjust to the ball in the air and solid hands. It looks like he will be JT Daniels’ go-to target in this offense. What’s more, finding the end zone twice is a huge improvement for a player that has yet to top three touchdowns in a single season. There is a long season ahead to prove that this wasn’t a fluke, but it was about as strong a start Ford-Wheaton could have hoped for.

Tiyon Evans, RB, Louisville
3rd-year junior
Week 1 stat line: 13 carries, 89 yards, 1 TD, 2 receptions, 2 yards
The stat line might not look like much at first glance. However, averaging 6.8 yards per carry against a Syracuse defense that allowed 2.7 combined to all other rushers in the game. Evans was about the only bright spot for a Louisville offense that struggled to get anything going. I liked what I saw from him at Tennessee and it seems like he has picked up right where he left off with the Cardinals. I would love to see a bit more production out of the backfield, but this was a really good start.

Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia
6th-year senior
Week 1 stat line: 25/31, 368 yards, 2 TDs, 2 carries, 8 yards, 1 TD
It turns out that Bennett might just have an NFL future after all. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. He is still nowhere near the level of Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, but he looks like he could be a capable starter in the right system. Todd Monken put him in some very easy positions to make plays, but Bennett made the correct decision every time. He is mobile and crafty. He had some truly special plays in this game and posted a new career-high in passing yards. Bennett still has a number of questions to answer when it comes to arm strength, but he is winning over doubters.

Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
3rd-year sophomore
Week 1 stat line: 3 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, blocked field goal
What a coming out party for the Albany transfer! Verse absolutely dominated LSU’s offensive line, frequently getting himself into the backfield. He won with a variety of pass-rush moves and made life very difficult for Jayden Daniels. The blocked field goal early in the game was simply icing on the cake. For anyone wondering if Verse would be able to adjust to playing Power 5 football after transferring from an FCS program, it seems like the transition has not been an issue.

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
3rd-year sophomore
Week 1 stat line: 17/24, 168 yards, 11 carries, 106 yards, 3 TDs
Richardson lit the world on fire with a stunning performance in the Swamp. He flashed that incredible ability last season, but now he stepped into the full-time starter role. So far, so good for the Gators. He had some plays against Utah that were just absurd. Most of the damage was done on the ground. Richardson might be the best running quarterback in the country, although LSU’s Jayden Daniels would like a word. I would still like to see a bit more in the passing game from Richardson, but he does more than enough to make me think he is trending towards being a top-10 pick in the upcoming draft. He still has a very small sample size to draw from, but plenty of opportunities left to prove he is a special kind of player.

K.J. Henry, EDGE, Clemson
5th-year senior
Week 1 stat line: 7 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
There are about half a dozen Clemson defenders I was already monitoring this year. Henry was not one of them entering Monday night, but he is now. He dominated this ball game against Georgia Tech. He made the Yellow Jackets offensive line look foolish for much of the night, perfectly executing pass-rush stunts and routinely showing his ability to use his hands to find separation on the edge. Entering the game, he only had 9.5 sacks combined in his first four seasons. He could be primed for a breakout year that sees him landed in the middle rounds of the NFL draft. Keep in mind, he was ESPN’s No. 6 recruit back in 2018. Looks like he might finally be living up to his potential.

Garrett Shrader, QB, Syracuse
4th-year junior
Week 1 stat line: 18/25, 236 yards, 2 TDs, 16 carries, 94 yards, 1 TD
So full disclosure, I am a Syracuse alum, but wow, I was blown away by the development seen from Shrader. A year ago, he struggled to complete passes, looked wildly inaccurate and seemed overmatched by the competition in the ACC. It was just one game, but he looked poised, showing greatly improved accuracy and continuing to be a threat with his legs. He has to repeat this type of performance several times this season to warrant being drafted, but he started the weekend nowhere near the radar. He at least has the attention of scouts now heading into a three-game stretch against UConn, Purdue and Virginia.

Stock Down

Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
3rd-year sophomore
Week 1 stat line: 3 tackles
I had very high expectations for Sewell heading into this season. He featured in my most recent mock draft as a late first-round selection. It certainly does not look like that will be the case through one week. I went back and watched Sewell closely after Georgia stomped Oregon. Sewell routinely looked lost. He was missing reads, falling for the window dressing that the Bulldogs were running with misdirections and players in motion. There were still a couple of plays where he flowed downhill and got to the football, but the bad definitely outweighed the good in this one. It was a huge stage for Sewell to prove himself. He definitely fell flat and will have some questions to answer moving forward.

Cade McNamara, QB, Michigan
4th-year senior
Week 1 stat line: 9/18, 136 yards, 1 TD, 1 carry, -8 yards
It is looking more and more likely that McNamara will lose his starting job in the coming weeks. He struggled early against Colorado State, missing open receivers regularly. His touchdown pass came on a busted coverage on a swing pass. For a quarterback that already seemed like he was on the fringes of the draft conversation, this just further indicates that he does not have an NFL future. Michigan’s offense looked better when he was not in the game. McNamara seemed to settle in a little bit as the game went on, but with J.J. McCarthy set to start in Week 2 against Hawaii, I wouldn’t be surprised if McNamara loses the job.

Trevor Reid, OT, Louisville
4th-year senior
Week 1 stat line: Uhhh…
The JuCo transfer is now in his second season as Louisville’s starting left tackle. His 2022 campaign got off to a rocky start. He was flagged for holding on a couple of occasions. He also whiffed on several pass block reps and struggled to set the edge in the run game. The 6’5″ senior has the build that folks were hoping he could take the next step and enter the draft conversation. It looks like he is headed in the opposite direction at the moment, which could prove costly for Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham, who has legitimate draft hopes as a dual threat player. Reid will need to step up moving forward, especially with a trip to UCF up next followed by a visit from Jared Verse and Florida State.

Ali Gaye, EDGE, LSU
5th-year senior
Week 1 stat line: 1 tackle
Gaye was one of the more under-the-radar draft prospects I really liked and was excited to watch coming into this season. He has good physical tools and a great first step. He really needed to up his production in 2022 as a fifth-year senior. His season got off to a disastrous start. LSU struggled to get off the field on third down all night. Gaye was not generating much pressure until he got a free run at Jordan Travis in the third quarter. He ended up headbutting Travis right in the helmet well after he threw it on a vicious hit, which earned him an early trip to the showers and will cost him the first half of the Tigers’ next game. It looked like a play of pure frustration that proved to be very costly.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.